illustration: Clayton L. Luce
Meet Margaret Ann Harrell whose resume includes Harrell Communications, Columbia University, and the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich and the following books: “Keep This Quiet! My Relationships With Hunter S. Thompson, Milton Klonsky, and Jan Mensaert.” “Keep THIS Quiet Too!” “Keep This Quiet! III; Initiations.” And in this series “Keep This Quiet! IV: More Initiations.” Other titles by Margaret include “Toward A Philosophy Of Perception,” and “Marking Time With Faulkner.” Oh, and she was copy editor for Hunter S. Thompson’s “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga.” That was 50 years ago.
C.A. Seller: Primarily, I wish to focus on your latest work, “Keep This Quiet! IV: More Initiations.” Forgive my lack of vernacular, this is no novel but a historical record of a synchronistic journey. Would that be close or am I off the mark?
Margaret Ann Harrell: Interesting. It was said of the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, oddly enough—that he was a walking synchronicity all his life. And it led him to the Nobel Prize. I like to think of a synchronistic life as one where you go where your energy is. Jung called it “being led by the unconscious” (the personal and collective). For a long time I put all of my intuition into my writing (I thought I was a novelist), and one day I realized that that intuition I was putting into my novel writing, I could as well put into my life. It required believing my intuition knew things my conscious self didn’t—which events proved to me. And as unexpected things happened, the more I was “led by the unconscious,” everything I believed about what was possible in life began to change. So, yes, as I eventually listened to myself, the more I began to find myself in synchronicities. Continue reading
art by Unitas Quick
“Superman don’t need no seat belt.” – Muhammad Ali
Bessie had been keeping a low profile ever since the snatch at Goldman’s jewellers in Hatton Garden, but he knew it was Tony’s birthday tonight and felt like getting loaded. He was relieved that among the usual stash of diamonds, gold designer watches and other trinkets he had found the piece of paper he was looking for with the small rectangular-shaped key, the top of which was embedded with tiny emeralds and rubies.
He stared at it quizzically, then carefully wrapped it up in tissue and folded it away. The paper with the key felt old and worn. He reflected over its contents and made a mental note to himself to show it to his friend Deepak. If he couldn’t decipher it, he would take it to his Sikh friend Manju at his local curry house. No need to let on he had it just yet; everything in its own time.
For now, he would have it “large” and celebrate Tony’s birthday in style. First, though, he thought about banging some “sort” at his local strip club just off Tottenham Court Road. He was a regular at Spearmint Rhino. Although this wasn’t a typical British lap dancing club, he enjoyed it anyway. Smiling to himself, he liked to think of it as the “McDonald’s” of Table Dancing—fresh, healthy produce always competitively priced with guaranteed satisfaction. The club was close to Oxford Circus and boasted an exotic variety of international beauties. It had warm, sepia-toned lighting, a leopard print carpet, flashtrash mirrored walls, and a filtered down private vibe.
Outside, the resident bouncers were beefed-up, bald and bolshie. They let Bessie through without paying as he was a regular. Once inside, he recognized the sexy beat of Prince’s “You Got the Look.” There was a floor show on.
He saw his favourite dancer sliding her legs up and down a long, silver-coloured pole. He would ask her for a private dance later. To the right of him at the far end of the club was Leroy the black D. J. He wore his hair braided a la Terence Trent D’arby. He waved and smiled at Bessie as he got closer to the bar. Behind him were a mixture of suits and wide boys wearing Ben Sherman and T. M. Lewin shirts, cheap brands for an easy night out getting pissed. Some women were sitting close to the action right in front of the stage. They had “tango” tans and big boobs. They were laughing loudly, making rude noises. Most of them dressed in Karen Millen or Morgan.
They all had blonde highlights and fake Louis Vuitton purses. They were tipsy now and gradually getting drunker as the evening wore on. A couple of guys sat directly opposite him and in front of them were two dancers provocatively peeling their clothes off to a new, slow-beat dance track, their silicone breasts and long, silky hair creating playful shadows on the softly lit walls. Continue reading
Art by Dan Reece
He made a cup of tea with the three packets of sugar he’d
saved from his breakfast. Filling the hot-pot, he took a good
look at his eyes in the mirror and decided that they were yellower and markedly more bloodshot than
they had been before. Hero’s head swooned and his body no longer seemed
to be caught up in gentle waves – now the invisible force
was a blob of magnetic energy which began around his calves,
where it was heaviest, and gradually diminished as it rose
on a bungee-cord hooked to his tailbone. He filled out a
sick call slip while he drank his tea. Continue reading
This week marks 46 years since Scanlan’s Monthly published Hunter S. Thompson’s legendary piece, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.
words, art and photos courtesy of Ralph Steadman
I had only just arrived in America in late April of 1970 and was staying with a friend in the Hamptons on Long Island to decompress. His name was Dan Rattiner, who ran the local newspaper, THE EAST VILLAGE OTHER. After a week I began to feel I was getting in the way and it was time to make my trip into New York to look for work.
He had so generously picked me up at Kennedy Airport a week earlier and we drove into New York and out the other side. I roll my own cigarettes and without thinking lit up in his car. Dan said, rather sweetly, I thought, that they tended not to encourage that kind of habit, particularly in a car, because it was a bit like “giving cancer to your friends.” I gulped down the smoke. Then I lowered the window and choked the filthy excrement out into the city.
That was OK, even in 1970, and I respected his guarded request. It was then that I first saw the crossing sign at intersections which came up in green and red, pronouncing, WALK, and then, DON’T WALK. I laughed about it for some reason. I think it was the tone. The command. The admonition.
Which ever one you obeyed, you were guilty. I was beginning already to like the city. DRINK, DON’T DRINK. SMOKE, DON’T SMOKE. PUSH THAT OLD LADY OUT OF YOUR WAY. DON’T PUSH THAT OLD LADY OUT OF YOUR WAY. BOMB THE SHIT OUT OF SOMETHING. DON’T BOMB THE SHIT OUT OF SOMETHING. RULE THE WORLD. DON’T RULE THE WORLD. OK. FORGET IT. WE CAN DO ANYTHING. WHAT D’YA NEED? HAVE A NICE DAY! $$$$$$$$$$$$. FOREIGN POLICY? WHAT WAS THAT?
It kept me in a kind of reverie until we got to the Hamptons. It was my first true vision of the American way of life — a slice of the American Dream. The law-abiding vision of madness contained in a mechanical device. It was the law masquerading as a road sign. DON’T, was the true mantra. Americans love DON’T. Thou shalt not. The bedrock of received knowledge — the Ten Commandments. The God-fearing pioneers who still had a long way to go. GO! DON’T GO. FUCK YOU GOD! We’re on our way . . .
I spent the week with Dan and his wife Pam. Enjoying their spontaneous kindness. Their joy in themselves. Their genuine desire to be nice to strangers and make them happy. It was then that I began to think that it was time I moved on and leave them inside their euphoric bubble. Bless their hearts. It was time to go into New York.
Of course, the very next day the phone rang and it was for me: ”Are you Ralph Steadman?”
“I bin lookin all over for you. Dey told me that you was already in de States. I got a job for yer. Do yer wan it??”
It was a call from JC Suares, art editor of Scanlan’s magazine in New York. He said, “We bin lookin’ all over for ya!” He growled with a pronounced Brooklyn accent. “How’d ya like to go to de Kentucky Derby wid an ex- Hell’s Angel who just shaved his head, huh! and cover de race. His name is Hunter Thompson.”
“Johnson? Never heard of him,” I replied. “What’s he do? Does he write?”
“The what?” I replied.
“De Duuurby,” he repeated.
“You mean the DAAARBY!”
“OK,” He said, “De DAAARBY!” We were in agreement. “But he doesn’t want a photographer. He wants sometink weird and we’ve seen yer work, man!”
Denver, Colorado 1/8/2016 – I was headed to the Tattered Cover Book Store at a steady clip of about 55 mph around 6 p.m. on Friday – a much slower rate of speed than my likeable preference as I approached the Denver city lights that illuminate the outlines of buildings in the night’s shadow beneath the turning worm – It was a reasonable clip considering mildly hazardous road conditions after a few inches of snow earlier in the day.
I was making good time.
Hunter Thompson’s son, Juan Fitzgerald Thompson was giving a reading from his new book “Stories I tell Myself – Growing up with Hunter S. Thompson” at the Colfax book store. I had a steady hand and good nerves this round and was ready to see what Hunter’s son was going to present.
The preface of the book reads:
This is a Memoir, not a biography, a highly subjective and unreliable memoir of how my father and I got to know each other over forty-one years until his suicide in 2005. It is filled with exaggerations, misstatements, faulty recollections, obfuscations, omissions, and elisions. It also contains a lot of truth about my father and me, more truth than falsehoods, I think.
If I am deceiving you, though, I am deceiving myself first of all. It’s just that all I have is memory, and memory is a treacherous thing, treacherous, as in unfaithful and perfidious. Double-crossing and underhanded. Memory is not objective. It is not an impartial recorder, but instead a selective, changeable, and unreliable record being constantly revised and edited to suit our needs and desires. Yet our lives and our identities are largely built upon our memories, and we trust them implicitly so we can draw our conclusions about our lives and the people in them. So we do the best we can, knowing we are fooling ourselves a good part of our lives. We go forward in spite of it. I go forward in spite of it.
These are the stories I tell myself.
Hunter was famous, almost worshipped in some circles, unknown in others, brilliant, a grand master of the written word and one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. He was an alcoholic and drug fiend, a wild, angry, passionate, sometimes dangerous, charismatic, unpredictable, irresponsible, idealistic, sensitive man with a powerful and deeply rooted sense of justice. Most important to me though, he was my father and I was his son. And no son can escape the claim of that relationship. Good or bad, weak or strong, alive or dead, close or distant, our fathers are with us.
This is the story of how my father and I went very far away from each other, and over twenty-five years managed to find our way back.
-Juan Fitzgerald Thompson Continue reading